Monday, June 20, 2005


Slade? Who The Heck Is "Slade?"

Originally uploaded by Devon Sanders.
We're living in an interesting age of perception and the following illustrates this....

A few weeks back, my store had a poster for Villains United in the doorway. This kid, this child, kept pointing at it quite excitedly saying, "Slade!" "It's Slade!"

All I could do is stare at him blankly, thinking, "Who the hell is "Slade?" To me, "Slade" was no where to be found on that poster. I walked over and looked at it and finally I tapped into the same glimmer of recognition the kid had had just seconds before.

At seven years old, he sees "Slade." Still in my thirties, I see Deathstroke, The Termainator. Why? Because today the name, Deathstroke, The Terminator would never fly on daytime children's television. Hence, the calling of Deathstroke by his first name, "Slade."

I just find it amazing that the characters I grew up with are being re-energized and repackaged in order to make them accessible to today's youth.

Where I perceive Robin, The Boy Wonder as Robin of "Batman & Robin," my four year old nephew perceives him as a member of the cartoon "The Teen Titans."

To him, Green Lantern is a Black man named John Stewart and while Hal Jordan may have the number one selling comic this month, it means absolutely nothing to him. (I'll teach him both.)

How cool is it that we have these characters down to continuously hand down to the next generation. I'm pretty sure that when Julius Schwartz and Carmine Infantino introduced Barrry Allen as The Silver Age Flash someone looked at Barry Allen and thought, "That's not The Flash."

The more things change...

And yet, thanks to JLU, my nephews will call me up to also ask me about those characters who HAVEN'T been updated. In the past few weeks, I've found myself summarizing the backstory of many characters for them, characters heretofore completely unknown outside of the dankest, littered-with-Hot-Pockets-wrappers, geek circles.

The Question. The Vigilante.
Prince Gavyn Starman. (And, to my eight year old "girl power" niece, Huntress, Vixen, Plastique, and Tala.)

These are characters I knew when I was their age, and it's an odd feeling to actually impart that same geek knowledge, intact, unto a younger generation.

I suppose it's what other uncles feel like when they talk unbelievably arcane sports trivia with their nephews and nieces. Instead of box scores, it's Booster Gold.

It won't make superhero comics the hot property among kids it once was -- Dorian over at Postmodernbarney is absolutely right: each generation inevitably rejects what the preceding generation embraces -- but, for this window of time, my nostalgia fuses with their new interest. I'll enjoy it while it lasts.
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